2007-03-18

Microsoft Event In St. Louis

This product launch event actually took place in late February, and I'm just a big slacker for taking so long to share it with you. (you can find microsoft events here)

This 'tour' of theirs was called Microsoft Across America Launch Event. Registration was free. You could sign up for different 'tracks'. DH chose IT, and I chose Small Business. There were two four-hour demonstrations, but, we only took the morning tracks.
The Small Business track was dedicated to showing tools in the new Office 2007 and how they could improve the day to day office tasks.

It was held at the Adam's Mark Hotel. Lovely.
PARKING WAS A NIGHTMARE. Of course the hotel's parking lot was full, so we were directed to a nearby parking garage... which had THE. MOST. CONVOLUTED. design and the most inadequate signage ever. We finally found a spot and found our way out of this strangely long and twisted building, and walked back a couple of blocks to the hotel. Once inside the Adams Mark, there were clear signs directing us up a couple of levels to where the meetings were taking place.

There were some lovely pastries and fruit out for breakfast, as well as coffee and soda. There was plenty for everyone, despite the warning during registration that it was first come first served, so don't count on being able to get any.

Things were getting started a couple of minutes late, I'm sure because we were NOT the only ones who'd had hassles with the parking, so many of the attendees got there after the designated start time.

There were some vendors with booths scattered around, flanking the registration desk; but, nothing too in-your-face.

Registration was quick and painless, we were given a bag with a t-shirt, product and event flyers, and a small token which we could exchange after class for... a free copy of MS Office. Not demo mode, not 90 days only... but, as long as it resides on that hard drive, it's free to you. (believe it or not, I heard many people whining about the fact that you couldn't reinstall if you wiped your hard drive. boohoo, it's free, be happy for the time you've got it! I will be... I haven't installed yet because I knew I was wiping my pc soon... likely next weekend.)

There were A LOT of people there, a couple hundred per class, with three classes running concurrently. During the four hour class, we broke about 3 times, and they staggered it nicely so there wasn't a huge rush on the restrooms and beverage stations.

So, seeing Windows Vista in action during this MS Office Demonstration, I am impressed by the improved search. I use Windows search A LOT in XP, and while it is MUCH better than 2000, it's still a pain at times. Very, very nice search, previewing, etc.

I've been reading a lot about 'ribbons' over the past few months and had just assumed it to be a marketing buzzword, that, quite frankly, I was tired of hearing. I had no need to tie up my hair.
But, once I saw what they were talking about (basically, context sensitive tabs with commands and options), I thought it was a good thing. Heck, ANYTHING has to be better than those annoying cascading menus in Office 2003.

You can find tips for navigating the ribbon in Access, Excel, Word, Powerpoint and Outlook on this page.

Overall, a decent use of half a day and a decent way to see the new OS and Office Suite. The speaker was really good. There were a couple of glitches, but, he made them work and got a few laughs out of us ('Well, I think NOW would be a good time to demonstrate file recovery!')
Note, if I wanted the presentation powerpoint, we were expecting a link via email, but, I never got one, and evidently others didn't either, so you can download the file here.

The speaker, Greg, did mention a couple of free software applications from Microsoft; which can be upgraded to paying versions, if necessary. One of the programs I was familiar with, as I downloaded it last fall and taught myself the ins and outs, all the while being impressed at the extensive tutorials and help files and forum activities... and that program would be SQL Server Express. He also mentioned Office Accounting Express, which I hadn't heard of. I haven't tried this one out myself, as I really haven't had the time lately, but, I'd like to. Given my background in Accounting, I think it wouldn't hurt to keep myself apprised of related programs (back when I worked as an Account Temp in high school, we didn't use computer programs, everything was handwritten and calculated).
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